House of Cards is “Politics Without Romance”

POLITICSI’m late to this party: I just recently started watching “House of Cards” on Netflix. As an economist who studies and teaches the economics of political decision making, I find it absolutely captivating. It’s a spectacular example of the public choice tradition, which the Nobel laureate James Buchanan defined as “politics without romance.” After watching the first season, I think it’s very interesting that hardly any of what has been said has been about serving the public. It has pretty much all been about making deals that allow people to keep and increase their power. The congresspeople, staffers, journalists, lobbyists, and everyone in the show—there are no good guys, except perhaps Freddy the petit bourgeois barbecue chef.
I won’t spoil anything, but given that people indulge what Daniel Klein calls “the people’s romance” —a love for government per se— it’s nice to see it depicted for what it encourages.

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